“No, there is no one in the band named Jimmy. The origins of the band name have remained secret since the members swore an oath to never reveal its deeper meaning. Formed in 1991 as a busking band to raise spare change for food, cigarettes and beer, the band’s first on-stage performance was at one of the regular Wednesday night talent competitions at the Duke of Somerset pub in Ottawa. They did not win. They were, however, offered a regular show at the Duke of Somerset, which they gladly accepted as visions of draught beer and cash danced in their heads. Five years later, Sunday nights at the Duke of Somerset have become synonymous with Jimmy George, and line-ups down the street are the norm. Noticed by CBC Radio producer Bill Stunt at one of their two opening slots with Spirit of the West in 1993, the band recorded their debut release, A Month of Sundays, with the CBC’s assistance. The disc, released April 1st, 1994, is already in its fifth pressing and (so far) reaction has been unanimously good. The follow-up disc, Hotel Motel, was released by Cargo/MCA in November 1995. Their label, Cargo Records, went bankrupt in 1997.
A bit later, their home away from home, The Duke of Somerset, changed ownership and began renovations. With the disruption caused by the renovations and the departure of many of the staff, numbers started to decline for the weekly shows at the Duke. When drummer Tom Werbo decided to call it quits, the band faced the age-old decision: recruit and train a new drummer, or call it quits? The consensus was to take a hiatus as the thousands of shows were starting to take their toll on the band members’ enthusiasm. So an officially-entitled “last show” was booked at Barrymore’s in Ottawa on St. Patrick’s day (of course), 1998.
Well, like many other bands, it was only a matter of time before the band members started to miss the crowds, the cash, and of course the beer, so on the occasion of mandolin player Joel Carlson’s wedding in the spring of 2000, the band reunited to remember old songs and play amongst old friends. Without the stresses of a weekly show the old energy was back and the played in June 2000 at Barrymore’s to a record crowd and consequently record beer sales.
2001 sees the band playing another showcase show at Barrymore’s in April and the release of a compilation CD featuring previously released studio material, some unreleased live songs and one new studio track recalling their trip to the UK a few years back.”
“The band have ceased recording and playing as a unit for the most part, playing a “final” show in 1997. They played regular “reunion” shows in Ottawa to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day or over the Christmas holidays for several years. In April, 2002 the band headlined Ottawa’s Tulip Festival Concert Series and played a headlining show at Ottawa’s Barrymore’s Music Hall, flying in accordion player Mickey Vallee for the occasion from his new home of Edmonton, Alberta.
October 7, 2007, the former owners and staff of the Duke of Somerset pub organized a reunion event at local pub The Heart and Crown. Jimmy George played two sets with the line-up of J (vocals/acoustic guitar), Jeff (banjo), Mike (electric guitar), Joel (mandolin/bass), Rob (drums), Steve (bass/mandolin/accordion) and guest appearances by Angela McFall (Fairytale of New York) and Madeleine Giguere (Rock and Roll Thing) on vocals and Colin Burns on bass for a few songs.
March 17, 2008, the band played a St. Patrick’s Day show at Zaphod Beeblebrox in Ottawa. The lineup for this show consisted of J Todd (vocals, acoustic guitar), Joel Carlson (mandolin), Rob Porter (drums), Steve Donnelly (bass, electric guitar, accordion) and Colin Burns (bass on a few songs). This show was likely the smallest version of Jimmy George to ever perform live.
In December 2011 the band celebrated their 20th anniversary with 3 shows at Kaffe 1870 (Wakefield QC) and Elmdale House Tavern (Ottawa ON). Altman flew in from Japan for the occasion, and Vallee made the trek from western Canada. The band played to packed houses 3 nights in a row and the second night featured all three drummers from the band’s history, Altman, founding member Rob Porter and Tom Werbowetski.
The members continue to perform in bands including: Bible All-Stars (Carlson); The Kingmakers, Ninety Pounds of Ugly (Donnelly); Mike McDonald Broadband (Vallee)
Several of the band’s songs have been performed by other bands, most notably Breakfast With St. Swithin which appeared on Vancouver band The Town Pants‘ CD. Other bands have performed the band’s Token Celtic Drinking Song despite the fact that the song has no official lyrics and many of the words are improvised and undiscernable even on the recorded version.
The band’s songs have been featured in several television programs including Toddlers and Tiaras, and Southie Rules.
Though they usually played in Ottawa, on one memorable occasion, they played a bar in Toronto. Clearly unfamiliar with the demands of a Celtic rock band (that hated Celtic music) and its fans, the bar ran out of beer long before the band ran out of songs. Disgruntled fans made do with shots, mixed drinks, and sarcastic mutters. Later that evening, a second disaster nearly struck as Mickey, hands busy with an accordion solo, tried desperately to spit out a cigarette that had become dangerously stuck to his bottom lip. All was well, however, and shortly thereafter, the band played a cover of “Home for A Rest.” The resultant dancing caused the floor to bounce, propelling even those who did not normally partake in rhythmic activities into lurching back and forth as the floor jigged and reeled. (Source: admittedly fuzzy memories of the evening.)”
2017: the band (J Todd -vocals, Michael Spike Lawson -guitar , Joel Carlson – mandolin, Jeff Kerr – banjo, Steve Donnelly – bass, Tim Connolly – drums, Stuart Rutherford – fiddle and Robert Alexander – accordion) played a St. Patrick’s Day gig at House of TARG in Ottawa